Blake Shelton scores attention of CMA voters
This Oct. 30, 2013 photo shows a virtual record player promoting Blake Shelton that was produced to influence voters of the CMA Awards in Nashville, Tenn. The CMA encourages artists and their labels to educate voters, allowing three email blasts and one mailed product a year. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The folks at Warner Music Nashville are showing they know how to get your attention. And this time of year, it's all about attention, with the County Music Association Awards being presented next week.
This includes mailing out a nifty virtual record player to promote Blake Shelton at the CMAs and hiring a marching band to draw attention to new artist nominee Brett Eldredge.
Peter Strickland, WMN's executive vice president and general manager, calls these attention-getters awareness campaigns, and they sure have raised awareness.
The virtual player has been the talk of CMA voters. It includes a vinyl copy of Shelton's "Based on a True Story" laid in a thin plastic rectangle. Scan a code with your cellphone, put it on the record, and a digital arm appears that allows you to "play" the music. You can move the arm back and forth, just like on a turntable. And the vinyl album can be played on a real turntable.
In this Oct. 30, 2013 photo, Brandi Simms, director of membership and balloting for the Country Music Association, displays products sent to influence voters of the CMA Awards in Nashville, Tenn. The CMA encourages artists and their labels to educate voters, allowing three email blasts and one mailed product a year. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
"We just wanted to focus on the music and we knew if we did something totally revolutionary, I guess, that people would take the effort to listen to it," Strickland said. "The hardest part is to get the CD from the package into the player to pay attention to the music, and we didn't have an issue with this piece."
Each awards show has its own set of rules about lobbying for an artist. The CMA encourages artists and their labels to educate voters, allowing three email blasts and one mailer a year. Brandi Simms, the CMA's director of membership and balloting, oversees the program and vets the mailers to make sure they conform to a few guidelines.
Most mailers consist of simple items like CDs or postcards, but vinyl albums have become popular. Taylor Swift sent out a tour book this year. (Jason Aldean once sent out a translucent plastic envelope containing a memorable letter.) Before Shelton set the bar this year, the most memorable item in recent years was the holographic picture of Billy Currington that featured two images as you moved it back and forth — one with the singer's shirt on — and one with it off.